PHOTO AND WRITING BY MONIKA CSAPO
The moments I cherish the most from my travels are small things and are mostly things which just happened without me having planned them. I am a fan of good preparation- people who know me know it- but I also like to leave space for the unexpected. As good as I am at writing lists, I am just as good at dropping them when I had enough following them and switching to gut feeling mode.
This is how I met Sofia in Oslo who was an almost meter long Norwegian forest cat. And her owners who we met in front of Oslo´s famous cemetery on the way to a party place with my then newly found Brazilian friend. It was a surreal and very nice experience to suddenly drink beer at a real Norwegian home with local people, talking about the country, sharing stories from our lives. Looking at their cool Virgin Megastore world map with all the pins on it which marked the places they have visited already. At that time there it really felt so that the whole world is just a piece of textile on the wall waiting to be pinned down which is a totally easy thing to do. Luckily I had my phone with me and the photo I took of our group then still makes me smile every time I look at it.
During an other trip I had too much time in Copenhagen`s Black Diamond Library so I went up to see their free permanent exhibition where I saw among all an original copy of the Gutenberg Bible by accident. Because the cover of the exhibition album made me curious I decided to check out Cooper and Gorfer`s ongoing photo exhibition at the same place. It turned out to be by far one of the best photo exhibitions I have ever seen.
There are many other good examples and good memories of people and places which I collected thanks to letting go of rigidity and being a bit more spontaneous. This is how I won a complete circle of friends once just by following an invite to a party of a to me yet unknown student union. Many of the people from there are still my friends after all these years.
I have good memories of biking in the forest in Kuopio. I had a second hand bike what I bought for twenty five euros - through which I learned that biking in minus twenty degrees is not that bad at all if you have the proper layers of clothes on you. When I felt like doing so I went in the autumn for spontaneous bike rides to the forest regardless of the weather. Once the rain caught me in the middle of the forest. I remember how much I enjoyed to stop and just look around me, listen to the rain, take photos and just take in what I saw and heard in that moment.
I saw the bench on the photo above in a park in London. There were quite many of these parks by the road in Islington. They were like small isles of green, surrounded with a fence, having benches, sometimes fountains in them. I sat on this bench in the park and when I was about to leave I discovered the script on it: "In loving memory of Kam Tat Chiu". I remember that it made me think who this person was and who the person ordering this bench might have been. It made me think also about other things.
The stories go on and on and on. I am happy that I started to travel just when Facebook was on the rise and that at that time we used it mostly only for messaging. Generally I love to take photos of my trips to show the beauty I see around me. On the other hand remembering these stories is also a good reminder to myself: that traveling is so much more than just check-ins and shares. It is the process of being present with a fully open mind at a new place. It is the small moments we experience, the unexpected, the unknown and everything good and bad in between.